What Kids Learn
Four set-in-stone facts every world-class chef knows about potatoes:
- The part of the potato that we all know and love grows below ground.
- Another word for potato is tuber.
- You wash a potato before using it. Rinse your spud with warm, running water, and remove the gunk with a vegetable scrubber (a must according to experts).
- Steam builds up under the tuber’s skin while baking. To ease the pressure, pierce your spud with a knife or fork before it hits the oven.
My kids love potatoes—mashed or fried—but their favorite way to eat them is stuffed and baked. And I get it: Growing up in a big family with a mother who also loved potatoes, we ate mashed, scalloped, baked, boiled, or fried potatoes with what seemed like every dinner. As soon as I was old enough, I dutifully peeled potatoes by the potful for whatever dish my mother intended to put them into.
This recipe for baked, stuffed potatoes is so simple that it keeps kids engaged, and it occupies cute little hands with super-easy tasks from start to finish.
There’s nothing to peel, no oven to heat, no fancy tools, and no souped-up gadgets to fuss with.
Try this dish with broccoli and cheddar cheese (my kids’ favorite), swap out the broccoli for another veggie, or toss in some diced, crisp, cooked bacon. Pare this tasty side with roast chicken or chicken tenders, or serve as a main course. This recipe is gluten-free; use a soy cheese if you prefer a dairy-free option.
What You’ll Need
- 2 medium-sized baking potatoes
- ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 cup chopped, cooked broccoli
- ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Pinch of black pepper
What to Do
- Show your helper how to thoroughly wash the potatoes, pat them dry with a paper towel, and then how to pierce each potato several times with the tines of a fork to let the steam escape while baking. Let her arrange the potatoes on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Place in the microwave oven and cook on high for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Set the potatoes aside for about 5 minutes to cool.Teachable Moment: What You Might Not Know About Potatoes
- The potato you know and love is the underground part of a plant whose proper (scientific) name is Solanum tuberosum. Sure, it’s a mouthful but it makes sense since the food part is called a tuber!
- Plants use tubers as storage spaces for nutrients and energy. So while tubers may look like roots, they do a very different job!
- Potatoes are members of the family of plants that also includes peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and morning glories!
- The first farmers to cultivate the potato were the native peoples of South America, most likely in what’s now Peru or Bolivia, say archaeologists. They got a head start on potato farming about 7,000 to 10,000 years ago.
- Show your child how to grate the cheese onto a large plate. Next, she can measure out the cheese into a medium mixing bowl. (Aim for ¾ cup.)
- Let the potatoes cool, and slice in half lengthwise. Show your novice chef how to use a spoon to scoop out the potato pulp. (Leave about a ¼ inch of it in the shell.)Teachable Moment: More Fascinating Potato Facts
- It wasn’t until about 400 or 500 years ago that potatoes made the trip across the ocean to Europe. Today diners all over the world enjoy them!
- Potatoes are a staple—or, essential—food worldwide, and for good reason: They are full of potassium, vitamin C, and water, and contain lots of other vitamins and minerals. Be careful, though! Most of the good stuff is close to the potato’s skin!
- In fact, there’s so much water inside potatoes that it makes up anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of their weight.
- To keep potatoes from losing all those good nutrients while they’re cooking, keep the skins on them! Baking and steaming potatoes retains the most nutrients, and frying keeps the fewest
- Invite your child to help you transfer the potato pulp to the mixing bowl. Next, let her measure and add half the cheese, the broccoli, the sour cream, salt, and pepper. Help her stir the mixture well and spoon it into the shells.
- She can sprinkle each potato with some of the remaining cheese. Place the stuffed potato halves on a plate lined with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 2 or 3 minutes, or until hot.